Today we see a new side of Geoffrey. To the clergyman and the steam buff, we must now add mountain goat. As Margaret is again working, we decide to take a ‘gentle stroll’ on the hill behind the house. We listen to advice, don sensible shoes and head upwards, taking increasingly frequent stops ‘to admire the view’ as the slope steepens. But it is worth it for the vista from the top – the nearby Loch in one direction and the sea and Inner Hebrides in the other are jewel-like in the sunshine.
“Why don’t we go down here – we can get closer to the Loch,” says Geoffrey – so we follow him to the edge of the ridge. But my feet lose their nerve and refuse to go any further. Finding an ‘easier’ route, he plunges down through the bracken – and we follow him once more. This time my feet keep going, despite my flashes of deja vu; ill-considered excursions on mountainsides in Greece with Michael come to mind.
At one point, I suggest there might be people on the other side of the valley watching our progress through binoculars “and betting £50 we don’t all make it down safely,” says Sheila – just before she slips and lands on her rear in a puddle.
There is a great sense of achievement all round when we hit the path at the bottom – and even more when, after several stiff road hills, we make it back home to the kettle!
When we decide later in the day to go down to the beach, we again take footwear advice. We hear Geoffrey say we’ll be OK without our sensible shoes, but miss the bit where he says neither he nor Margaret has actually been down there yet; which is how we end up walking through someone’s back garden, complete with sheep and goats, climbing rocks and wading through bog – all in our very non-sensible sandals!
The beach, when we finally reach it, is idyllic – a tiny inlet surrounded by granite rocks, with white sand and a gently-incoming tide. Despite my earlier protestations of “never swimming in the sea anywhere north of Crete”, I throw caution to the wind and immerse myself briefly – very briefly! I manage about five strokes before panic and a band of ice around my chest propel me to my feet and I head back to the shore. I am slightly miffed to note that DBP is sunning herself on a rock a the water’s edge without a camera in her hand for the first time in four days, but I have two witnesses to the fact that I really did swim.
We discover a graze on my ankle from a fight with an underwater rock; but this is totally trumped by the blood trickling down Sheila’s leg from her own stumble at the water’s edge. On the way home, I accidentally step on a beached – and thankfully sting-less – jelly fish. Then I try to jump over a patch of bog, only to slip, do the splits and end up flat on my back in the mud. We arrive home tired and aching; I am muddy and sunburned – and feel about a tenth of my real age. A truly brilliant day out!
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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